By Laura McDonald
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers and it is the leading cause of cancer death in Ontario. In 2020, it was expected that 10,592 people would be diagnosed with lung cancer in Ontario and that 7,124 people would die from lung cancer.1
The good news is that Ontario now has an effective and evidence-based way to check, or screen, people who are at high risk of getting lung cancer. According to Dr. Lisa Del Giudice, who works for the Toronto Central Regional Cancer Program, this means that some lung cancers can be found early when treatment has a better chance of working.
The Ontario Lung Screening Program (OLSP) is an organized lung cancer screening program that is available at the University Health Network (UHN) in downtown Toronto.
Who should get screened for lung cancer?
People may qualify for lung cancer screening if they:
- Are 55 to 74 years old, and
- Have smoked cigarettes every day for at least 20 years (it does not have to be 20 years in a row, which means there could be times when someone did not smoke)
To find out if you may qualify for lung cancer screening, talk to your healthcare provider or contact the OLSP at UHN at 416-340-4154. If you qualify for lung cancer screening and you do not have a healthcare provider, the OLSP will help find you one so that you can get screened.
What is the screening test for lung cancer?
People who qualify for screening will be offered a special type of computed tomography (CT) scan that uses a small amount of radiation. This test is called a low-dose CT scan. Getting screened with a low-dose CT scan is the best way to find lung cancer early when it may be easier to treat.
Lung cancer screening is not for everyone. Dr. Del Giudice says that “people who are not at high risk of getting lung cancer should not get screened because there may be more risks than benefits for them.”
For more information about lung cancer screening, please visit Ontario Health (Cancer Care Ontario). If you think you have any signs or symptoms of lung cancer, speak with your health care provider.
How to lower your risk of lung cancer:
- Do not smoke and avoid second-hand smoke;
- Protect yourself from cancer-causing substances;
- Eat a healthy diet;
- Know your personal risks.
Learn more about your lung cancer risk and how to reduce your risk at My CancerIQ.